Even after having three children I still had no idea such a thing even existed until I was a Doula for a young mama a few years back and she was in labor for what seemed like forever. I had attended quite a few births at this point but they had always had the normal patterns of progression but this time, it was just different.
Prodromal labor. What is it? Well it is when labor just doesn't want to do anything exciting and doesn't progress and causes aches and pains for hours and sometimes even days without any sort of baby outcome. Okay well that isn't the ACTUAL definition but it is mine. Some have compared it to false labor but I think it is way more intense than that. False labor or sometimes referred to as "braxton hicks" will eventually just die down after a few hours. This can last A LONG while sometimes, I have seen it go on for as long as 3 days. Zero progression, ZERO change. Thankfully they can give you medication sometimes to stop or slow it and that can be really helpful as it is almost like a refresh. STOPS the contractions, which is good. OR the contractions can kick into full gear jump starting real active labor.
So what can you do when you feel strong contraction type pains but you have noticed there is zero progression? What does it feel like? How does it stop?
SO the first thing you need to know and understand is REGARDLESS of if your pains are real labor, braxton hicks or prodromal labor your pains are valid and you aren't weak for finding something painful even if your body isn't progressing. That is very important to understand. I have heard "Oh well my labor wasn't real I don't know why I was so worked up I feel embarrassed". NEVER feel embarrassed for being in pain, hurting, being concerned or anything.
WHAT does it feel like? It feels like intense labor pains. The contractions are somewhat regular [5-10 mins apart] they will last a minute and feel super intense like you are in labor. After a while they will space, then get closer but there will be no change. And when I say change I mean "DIFFERENT". When you are in labor you will begin to notice a pattern of your contractions, they will start at a lower pain level....INCREASE.
Everything is a pattern and you will notice the shifts and changes in your body as labor progresses. When you are experiencing prodromal labor nothing progresses and nothing changes therefor you will notice that it is just stagnant.
On average this can last a few days and sometimes up to 4-5 days but by this point I am hoping you have already reached out to your OB or midwife voicing concern so they can help you. Sometimes prodromal labor can drag on without causing labor and sometimes it can jump start labor. If you wait it out and just hang in there labor may start or the contractions may die down and stop all together until your body is ready to start up and progress.
So what can you do if you are experiencing the dreadful prodromal labor? REST, stay very well hydrated. Talk to your health care provider. You are in pain and nothing is changing you don't want to exercise and make yourself even more tired. Try a nice bath, hot pack on the lower back. NEVER feel bad about reaching out for help, if you have noticed that labor just isn't progressing and you are in need of help or relief reach out and see what your options are.
It is important to understand the difference between prodromal labor and braxton hicks. Braxton hicks are usually painless and come and go but SOMETIMES can be painful. Prodromal labor will be intense and won't stop and won't progress so pay attention to your body and how you are feeling.
The positive is either they will stop or they will progress into active labor contractions leading to a baby. So Trust your body and trust how you are feeling and if things are just not right, won't slow or speed up reach out to your provider see what they can do and suggest to help you. Ask for help it is okay! You do not just have to "deal with it". You are STRONG but it is OKAY to reach out.
i wonder what it's like to have confidence. i try but i feel like i am constantly doubting everything i say and do.
i’m exhausted. i don’t want to ask for help anymore. why is it so hard for my loved ones to see me drowning and still not offer for to step up?!
i feel like i'm drowning and no one notices.